Similarities between lions and sympatric carnivores in diel activity, size and morphology
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Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Department of Biology, University of Florence, via Madonna del Piano 6, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino, Italy
Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology, School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
Department of Zoology, University of Venda, Private bag X5050, Thohoyandou 0950, South Africa
Department of Biology and Biotechnology “Charles Darwin”, Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, 00185, Roma, Italy
Biodiversity Research Institute (IMIB. UO-PA-CSIC), Spanish National Research Council, Mieres Campus, 33600 Mieres, Asturias, Spain
Mammal Research Institute, Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20, Hatfield 0028, South Africa
Fredrik Dalerum   

Research Unit of Biodiversity (UMIB. UO-PA-CSIC), Spanish National Research Council, Mieres Campus, 33600 Mieres, Asturias, Spain
Online publication date: 2021-07-07
Publication date: 2021-07-07
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2021;32(2):122–129
Temporal separation in diel activity between species can be caused either by different realized niches or by competition avoidance. Morphologically similar species tend to have similar ecological niches. Therefore, morphological similarities among sympatric species may be related to both overlap in diel activity and possibilities for competition. In carnivores, competition is often strong and asymmetric. Africa contains one of the most species rich carnivore assemblages in the world, where the African lion (Panthera leo) is dominant wherever it is present. Using camera trap data on South African carnivores, we evaluated how overlap with lions in diel activity related to similarities to lions in body mass, skull and long bone morphology. We found a positive association between overlap in diel activity with lions and similarities in log body mass, but we only observed this association using dry season activity data. We found no associations between overlap in diel activity with lions and similarities in either long bone or skull morphology, nor did we find associations between differences in overlap in diel activity within species between one reserve with and one without lions and morphological similarity with lions. Our results suggest that niche utilization rather than avoidance of lions dictated carnivore diel activity, although we acknowledge that lion avoidance could have been manifested in spatial rather than temporal separation. Our study supports recent suggestions of context dependencies in the effects of apex predator presences.
We are grateful to managers and staff at Lapalala Wilderness and Welgevonden Game Reserve for permission to carry out the research and for logistic support. We wish to thank museums curators for their support including: P. Jenkins, L. Tomsett, R. Portela-Miguez, A. Salvador, D. Hills, (The Natural History Museum, London); A. Kitchener and J. Herman (National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh); E. Gilissen and W. Wendelen (Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren).